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3 things we learned about the Cardinals

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CLEVELAND — Carson Palmer needed 30 minutes of game time to get warmed up on Sunday, but once the 13-year veteran got going there was no stopping him or his Arizona Cardinals in their game with the Cleveland Browns.

The Cardinals overcame a shaky first half by scoring 24 unanswered points in the final two quarters to rally past the Browns 34-20 and raise their record to 6-2.

Palmer threw three touchdown passes in the final 30 minutes after uncharacteristically overthrowing his receivers on three deep throws in the first half.

“We had more energy in the second half,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “We had better tackling defensively. Offensively we started making plays. We had three wide-open touchdown passes in the first half we don’t normally miss.”

Quarterback Josh McCown threw three touchdown passes in the first half to help the Browns take a 20-7 lead, but the Cardinals fought their way back, starting with a 37-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro on the final play of the first half.

The Browns (2-6) have lost five of their last six games.

The Cardinals survived four turnovers to get the win. The Browns turned the ball over twice.

Browns cornerback Joe Haden and safety Donte Whitner both left the game with concussions.

What we learned about the Cardinals:

1. The Cardinals once again proved they are very good under head coach Bruce Arians against opponents outside the NFC West. They are now 20-6 in that category since Arians took over in 2013. Arians said he has his team practice at 11 a.m. instead of 1 p.m. when the Cardinals have to play in the East so his team can acclimate to the time change.

2. Quarterback Carson Palmer is flourishing in his 13th NFL season. He threw four more touchdown passes on Sunday and now has 20 for the season. His passer rating against the Browns was 117.7 and for the season it is a lofty 110.2. He is 10-4 lifetime vs. the Browns.

3. It doesn’t seem to matter, but the Cardinals keep winning without a great pass rush. They dumped Browns quarterback Josh McCown only once on Sunday and now have 13 sacks on the season. One of their best pass rushers, linebacker Alex Okafor, was out with a hamstring injury.

Etc.:

–WR Larry Fitzgerald can cross the Browns off his list of teams he has never caught a touchdown pass against. One of his nine catches Sunday was a 6-yard touchdown pass from Carson Palmer. He has now caught at least one touchdown pass against every team except the Ravens and Jets.

–S Rashad Johnson’s touchdown-saving interception in the fourth quarter was the 13th pick by the Cardinals this season. Johnson leads the team with four of them. It was one of two takeaways by the Cardinals on Sunday.

–RB Chris Johnson added to his comeback season by rushing for 109 yards on 30 carries, but he also lost two fumbles. Coach Bruce Arians might have an easier time overlooking the mistakes since the Cardinals won the game. Johnson has 676 yards rushing in 141 carries. He was second in the league rushing when the day began.


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